Friday, August 22, 2008

The Perfect BoB

If you have been watching the medal presentation ceremonies at the the various sporting venues of the Beijing Olympics, one thing in particular stood out clearly....the elegant and pretty hostesses performing their roles to perfection. I was wondering about how they were selected, what kind of training did they receive and what essential qualities were the Games organisers looking for?
Since our country will be hosting the very 1st Youth Olympics in 2010, we would do well to learn from China....otherwise our hostesses may very well turn out to be no more than "Ah Lians". As a matter of fact, I have witnessed many of such "Ah Lians" in my long association with organised sports in Singapore. They were chosen unwittingly by people in charge who did not exercise care and diligence. Quite often, they were "friends of friends" types.

The "ah Lians" had no looks, no proper posture, no elite training...nothing!

Just look at the pictures of these Beijing hostesses...I'm certain they look every inch better in real life.( The one in photo below caught my attention. I thought that famed actress GONG LI was somehow involved !! )
Ok, so how were they chosen? Where do they come from? What were the criteria for selection? Read on.....

297 hostesses were needed. Plus 40 more volunteers. Age between 18 and 24. Height must be between 1.68 to 1.78 metres. All must be university educated. Physical requirements: All must have a " ruddy and shiny complexion " with a plump but not fat body. Must be able to smile with 8 teeth showing and hold it for 30 minutes. There are also exacting facial requirements like eyes to face 3/10 length and width of nose and mouth ratio to face. They must be able to run 1 km daily to keep fit.
Despite all these stringent criteria more than 5,000 hopefuls applied.

The lucky ones were put through a vigorous glamour boot camp. One report I came across revealed that all applicants had to strip to their birthday suit as trained medical personnel took their detailed measurements.
Did they protest?
Certainly not, none did. All were vying to be among the 297 hostesses required for the Games !
Country comes first to these ladies.
Those selected knew their roles and duties are simple, yet were fully aware that much is really at stake in the glitz and glamour of worldwide TV. One tiny mistake and you may put your country to shame, undoing all the hard work put in.
They have 5 different sets of costumes made for and white porcelain, embroidery and jade.
You would have noticed that at every medal presentation 2 dressed in lovely "Cheongsam" will be at either side of the podium. Another 3 or more dressed in knee-length dresses would hold the platters bearing the medals and bouquets of 9 red roses.

Why 9 ? Nine in Chinese means everlasting!
And "red roses" why? Red in Chinese belief means lucky !

All the hostesses I've seen looked very elegant, immaculate and very precise. Their appearance project GLAMOUR and PROFESSIONALISM.
Perhaps, at the end of the Games, the worldwide audience or the IOC should award the final and last medal of the Games to these hostesses.
And what should the medal colour be? In my humble opinion, I would award them a 10 out of 10 score.
GOLD less!

Photo credits: Beijing Olympics website

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A True Olympic Heroine ...Zhang Ning

Did any of you watch this fantastic match between Reigning World #1 and World Champion Xie Xingfang and the Defending Champion of the Women's Singles event from the last Athens Olympics, Zhang Ning?

This was the only all Chinese Final in Badminton in Beijing.

It was a battle between the younger queen and much older "mother of the Chinese team ". Xie is 27 while Zhang is 33.
Zhang Ning was playing with a heavily strapped right thigh and have been having a serious knee
problem for the last couple of years. She was struggling to come to terms with her constant injuries. Xie has no such injuries we know of.
When the match got underway, I noticed a very confident and smiling Zhang Ning on court while Xie appeared very tense.
In terms of skill level, both are equal, pretty much the same with most of the top elite players.
But with so much at an Olympic GOLD would require more than just skill and
physical fitness to truimph.
It was to be a battle of the toughest that can never be seen fully.
And that battle has nothing to do with who your opponent is.
It is essentially a battle within your own mind about yourself first.
Zhang Ning proved to be mentally stronger when it mattered.
She won the 1st game, lost the 2nd and in the decider even when Xie levelled to 16 all, she kept
her focus and went on a final attack to clinch the GOLD.
To be an Olympic Champion that 1st time at age 29, was a huge achievement already.
To repeat that feat, 4 years later and older, puts her in the realm of the Badminton Legends forever.

Top photo: [ source Badzine ]

Bottom photo: [ Beijing Olympics website ]

Friday, August 15, 2008

No longer the same old story ending !

In my previous post titled ' Alien in Beijing', I recounted how we have all
been patiently waiting for our next Olympic medal of any colour since Tan Howe Liang's Silver achieved in Rome, in 1960.....48 year to date.!
And I said I will make a special Magical wish for this sad state of affairs to change ( see my remarks in Green at the post ). It is not a joke.

I was watching the game "LIVE" on TVthis afternoon. Singapore had let slip a 2-1 lead against South Korea in this S-Final of the women's Table-Tennis played in Beijing, when Dang Ye Seo beat Wang Yuegu (Sg) in 3 easy tie it up at 2 - 2 overall matches won.
It was now left totally to Park Mi Young of S Korea and Feng Tianwei of Singapore ( Photo of Tianwei being hugged by SG coach Liu G D) to decide the final outcome and the fate of our 2 teams. Tianwei had already given us a BIG head start by beating Dang Ye Seo 3-0. And now, in the 5th and final match up, our destiny was in her hands.

She won the 1st 2 sets, lost the 3rd and in the 4th set with Matchpoint at 10-9 in her favour,
her rival Park served out....and the score was 11-9. SINGAPORE HAD MADE HISTORY AGAIN after 48 long years of drought.!
By beating S Korea 3-2 , we advaced into the FINAL against the host nation CHINA.
That match will be played on Sunday night...2 days from now.
All the players should be congratulated .
But the one player who showed RAW COURAGE and displayed TRUE GRIT more than the others, is FENG Tianwei.
In my sporting book she is the S'porean Heroine of this Sensational, history-making win.
She is the one that ensured that the previous story told every 4 years,for this past half century, would no longer have the same old boring ending.
Remember this date Singaporeans!.........Friday, 15th August 2008, Beijing Olympics.

There's an ALIEN in Beijing !

The living legend pictured here cannot be a human. He must be an alien from some other planets, just like his predecessor Mark Spitz, who won 7 Gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Can they really be human when you see their superhuman efforts in the pool, outclassing all other humans, many with better physique than the two "aliens"?
M Phelps' performance at the pool so far, has earned him 6 Gold medals. He won 5 Gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics. The total is now officially 11 Golds, making him the most bemedalled athlete in the History of the Olympics. And he has a couple more events to go yet! He has completely overtaken the 4 others who each had 9 Golds in all. Legends such as Carl Lewis, that great USA track and field superstar. Phelps sensational wins have been described widely in the media as," phenomenal, unbelievable, sensational, out of this world...etc". See.."out of this world " has alien connotation, right?
Whether he is an alien or not, many may not know that after his exploits at the last Athen's Games he was hounded by the American media and criticised for not being able to achieve 8 Golds [ he won only 5 Golds]. Can you all believe that? He was the most bemedalled athlete yet he was hounded! How can this be explained? Have they lost their minds?
The answer lies in just one word and that word is...Perspective.
They obviously had a different perspective to...say ours.
Our one and very lonely silver medal came from Uncle TAN HOWE LIANG in weightlifting at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Since then......a BIG,BIG ZERO! NIL! KOSONG! No medal of any colour or type and yet we keep sending participants and contingents, with lots of hopes and promises but in the end....the same old story, the same old boring ending, with no kick or spice. That same story will be invariably told and repeated once every 4 years.
Some of our Sg competitors are still within earshot of achieving something in Beijing. But that also happened in Athens and Sydney as well. And we all knew how it ended too. SIGH!
The Wise Owl here is making a special magical wish for our S'pore challenge in Beijing to have
a different ending. Can it be done? Why not? It's all in the MIND !
We should learn from the Alien.
He gave an interview recently when he was starkly reminded about the media's hounding.
His answer ...he does not give a damn about what they think or write or say.
He only needs to contend with himself!
The Devil or Giant is in his own MIND...not others.
That my friend, is the secret of the Alien's sucess.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A real Olympic Hero ! Weightlifting.

I have been catching up on all the "Live" Olympic action via the non-stop "Live" telecast on our
various TV channels. The greatest show on Earth has seen 5 days of top competition in all sports...except Athletics.

If you want to look for the best and latest lessons on the meaning of true grit, fighting spirit, mental toughness, endurance, patience, humility and other positive human attributes....then watch the Olympics closely.
I cannot even begin to know where to start as I have witnessed so many fine examples of these values.
Take for example Liu Chunhong from China, competing in the 69 kg Weightlifting event for women ( photo here ).
Her performance in the 2 compulsory sets of the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk broke all kinds of Olympic and World Records. In her very 1st attempt in the Clean and Jerk, she lifted 149 Kg more than anyone else could lift. Then she added 9 kg for her next attempt and the weight was 158 kg.
She managed to lift this for a new World record. I actually saw the metal bar bending due to the heavy load! Her best for the Snatch was 128 Kg. Total weight lifted was 286 kg. This was 31 kg better than the 2nd place N Slivenko from Russia ( 255 kg ).! Unheard of really in top competitions like this!
The 3rd place went to N Davydora from the Ukraine.
Immediately after the medal presentation ceremony, while still on the podium and in full view of the world, she removed her Olympic GOLD medal and hung it on the neck of her 2 coaches.
That was one very, very thoughtful act on her part.
By doing so, she has publicly acknowledged that her incomparable victory was in no way due to just her own efforts.
She had her 2 wonderful coaches and others to thank!
That win and her action afterwards exemplifies my contention....there is much we can learn from by watching these events closely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More on that 100m Butterfly Final....

These photos came from my own digital camera taken off my TV screen as it happened.
They show the medal presentation ceremony. The Olympic medals were presented to the 3 deserving winners by Ng Ser Miang, Singapore's top IOC official.
Bronze, Silver and finally Gold!

I read the hundreds of remarks and comments on AsiaOne Forum page online regarding Tao Li's remarkable achievements in this same Final. She had finished 5th ,making her the best top 5 swimmers in the world for this event.
Many who commented praised and saluted her. But there are those who continually "rubbed " it into her and our Sg sports people that her achievement, per se S'pore,...leaves little to crow about.
Many of these unhappy people are quite, quite mistaken in their simplistic reasoning. Perhap, they are too inflexible in their world views or have not kept up with the times. We are now in a fast moving, globalised world where many, many nations have opened up their country, with wide open arms, to welcome talent in diverse fields....not only sports. To continually harp on the fact of her past history does great injustice to Tao Li and others like her. She and her family came willingly to our country....NOT AS A TOP CHAMPION in SWIMMING yet. Just one of the hundreds of kids in China who have some talent.

She was moulded here over many years, trained and groomed by our coaches. Many have tried and many have failed, whether from S'pore or China. Only those with the GUTS, PASSION and an -all CONQUERING SPIRIT never quit...despite many failures and setbacks, and unappreciative remarks from a small section of disgruntled public.
That requires loads of RAW COURAGE.
It is different if we were to pay say
$10 million to a former or current foreign world champion to represent us in a sport...hoping for instant Glory.

Then I say it it dumb and I will join in the bandwagon of protest too.
Clearly, Tao Li and others like Li Jiawei, Ronald Susilo and Tang Juihong came here, had to work extremely hard to be where they are today.
No short cut!

ps: Ng Ser Miang presenting the Gold Medal to Libby Trickett the Olympic Champion.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Those Were The Days....!

This is the title of that very popular song that we all used to sing along with and enjoyed in the "Good Ole days".
It brings back bitter-sweet memories of the life and times of those yesteryears. Gone but never can be forgotten. Such were the times we were all living ,in those simple "kampong" days where life was carefree and daily we talked and chatted with our neighbours and friends and anyone else....face to face.
Not on handphones!
Not through emails!
Not with SMSs !
My good friend Frances has put a superb video-clip capturing the ESSENCE of those nostalgic years when we were kids and life tasted like COCA-COLA ! [ my favourite drink back then ].
You can see the clip at her blogsite listed at my blog links....titled "Walking in the Rain".
The greying photo was taken at Changi Point Beach in 1969.
Me and my younger brother who is in his late fifties today.


This morning at about 10.45 am in Beijing at the Olympics Swimming Finals for the 100 metres Butterfly event for women, Singapore Top Swimmer....TAO LI swam against the world's best and achieved 5th placing.
We would all do well to remember her for this history-making moment!
No other Singaporean has ever made it to an Olympic Swimming Final...she is the 1st one ever! Even the great Ang Peng Siong, someone I know, had not been able to accomplish this feat.
I was watching the Finals "Live" from my home and got my digital camera ready to capture these shots. They are not too sharp but did the job of capturing the moments before, during and after the race.

Well, what can I say ? What can we all say?
I say we all stand up and SALUTE to this new heroine of Singapore swimming by the name of TAO LI.
Though she did not appear among the medal winners, she has put SINGAPORE swimming on the World map! She has brought instant recognition and fame to our tiny island ! And she has a Great future ahead of her, being only 18 this year.

Another thing, my friends from Wuhan and China would also be glad to note that TAO LI was born and bred in WUHAN, Hubei Province....before making home in S'pore.
Give her another couple of years and with the very best coaches available to her...she would be standing on the podium of the winners at the next Olympics, for sure!

Tao Li is in Lane 5 in the picture.

The full Results.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Let's Count Our BLESSINGS !

Today our nation celebrated its 43rd Birthday. We joined the Fed of Malaysia on 16th Sept 1963 and one year later, on 31st August 1964, celebrated our 1st Malaysia day with a Parade held at the Padang. That parade will always be a part of me as I was a member of the Singapore Scout Contingent assembled in front of our City Hall and later took part in the Marchpast. That was not the only Parade I was involved in...there were others through the years.
But, that was the ONLY time that we in Singapore ever marched under a Malaysian flag and sang the " Negara Ku". A year later, on 9th August 1965, Singapore was unceremoniously kicked out of Malaysia. The sight of our weeping Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on our TV as he announced the SEPARATION between Singapore and Malaysia....remains an indelible part of our collective memory. I was one of those who gathered round our b/w TV set to listen and watch that historic announcement and moment of grief and agony. Only 3 weeks before that, I had embarked on a new journey in my life. I had joined the government service in my first job.
And then ....we were cast away, just like that....orphaned!
We were nothing but just an island with NIL resources, even less money, no food, no precious metals or oil, no agriculture, no crops, no defence, no army, no airforce, no navy...add more no's.
But we had LEADERS !
We had men of GREAT CHARACTER !
We had and still have a PEOPLE WHO NEVER SAY DIE!
when fate or rather the UMNO ultras across the causeway bullied tiny S'pore...back then.
TODAY, 43 years later....WE can stand TALL and PROUD of our Achievements as a Nation.

Based on the latest facts and figures on various Ranking sites, using either the IMF or World Bank sources, we can make a pretty accurate comparison of how and where we stand among other countries. Using either GDP or GNP or PPP [ Purchasing Power Parity ] or whatever...Singapore ranks highly and way above all the ASEAN countries., even higher than many other developed countries too.
Using the PPP indicator, S'pore is rank # 6 in the world and Malaysia # 69 !
Using per capita income, S,pore with US$ 35,163 is rank 21 while Malaysia with US$ 6,800 is rank 63. For a quick comparison with some other countries: Rank and US$ only.

Country Rank Per Capita

S'pore 21 /35,163
Japan 22 /34,312
Kuwait 23 /33,000
NZ 26 /30,200
Taiwan 37/ 16,000
HK /29,650
M'sia 63/ 6,800
Thailand 89/ 3,737
Indonesia 115/ 1,925
Philippines 119/ 1,625
India 131/ 978
Vietnam 140/ 818
Laos 150/ 600
Myanmar 174 /235
Zimbabwe 179/ 55

And this by all means is not our only Blessings. We have other more important things to count too. Full Independence, safety and security, 1st world standard of living, 1st class transport system, 1st class hospitals, 1st class schools and universities, Top Airport, Top Airline, Top Port,
Top government and civil service.....add infinitum.
So as I and those of my generation sit back and relax a little, we hope that the younger generation will take great pride in all that we have gone through and achieved together and always be on their guard against those who are very, very envious and jealous of our Great SUCCESS. Know who and where these dangerous wolves are today? No need to guess too hard for the first one though. The answer is pretty obvious....right?

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Greatest OLYMPIC OPENING ceremony...ever!

Tonight, 08-08-08 or as we say 8th August in the year 2008 ....this one single day would likely be remembered as the most important and significant day in CHINA's long 5000 year history. Before the modern era, in her past history, China remained virtually closed to the outside world. Except for the opening of the Silk Route and the maritime voyages by the great Zheng He, China was unknown to the world.
At the turn of the century, China was forced into opening up her country by the imperial and colonising powers and was largely humiliated in the process. The Chinese nation and her people had to endure such humiliation for nearly half a century.

The changes to the nation since then have been immense. Tonight, 4 billion people around the world had more than a good look at the phenomenal transformation that had taken place in China over the last 30 years.

More than 80 world leaders were also watching in awe inside the Bird Nest National Stadium.
As for me...I was watching it "LIVE"
on MediaCorp channel 5. It was by far the BEST and most SPECTACULAR of all opening ceremonies in the history of the Olympics. And I have seen all the ceremonies since 1960 Rome Olympics. I remember Nadia Comaneci that famous Gymnast being the 1st Olympic gymnast to score a perfect 10 out of 10 in gymnastics. She won the Gold. Based on what I have witnessed tonight of the entire opening

ceremony, I would award CHINA a perfect 10 for this AWESOME EXTRAVAGANZA of superbly chereographed dance, music,drumming, moving display,wizardry,fireworks....the lot!

It would be very difficult for anyone else to surpass such an opening ceremony.
Not only were the Chinese prepared to spend about US $ 50 Billion for the games but they had so much ability and creative talent in all areas.
Famed Zhang Yimou, the film director, was overall in charge of the opening ceremony.

The photos here...I had no choice. I used my dependable digital Canon camera to shoot direct from my TV screen. So the images cannot be sharp but sufficient to capture the mood and the history-making moments.

Top: The Olympic flame after it was set ablazed by the Final Torch Bearer Li Ning....who was given this most Prestigious honour among all their sports or top personalities, both past and present. He was a triple GOLD medallist in the 1984 LA Games in Gymnastics.

The next pic shows him lighting the flame...after he performed a high-wire "running" act seen in the next pic.

I managed to capture our very own Singapore contingent led by Li Jiawei carrying the flag.
Last pic...part of a spectacular item from which a giant globe was slowly raised from the ground and dancers performing on it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More on the Greyhound Incident

This report came from the DailyMail online
The attacker, who is an immigrant, appears to be of unsound mind. It was a most unfortunate crime as there was apparently no rhyme or reason for the unprovoked attack on the poor victim.

Accused: Vince Weiguang Li, accused of stabbing, beheading and eating another man on a Greyhound bus in Canada, is brought to court yesterday
The man accused of beheading and then eating another passenger on a Greyhound bus in Canada has begged a judge to "please kill me".
Vince Weiguang Li made his plea when a judge asked him if he wanted a lawyer as he appeared in court in Manitoba yesterday.
Li, who immigrated to Canada from China in 2004, is charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of 22-year-old carnival worker Tim McLean - an attack which witnesses aboard the bus said appeared to be unprovoked. He has yet to enter a plea.
Thirty-seven passengers were aboard the Greyhound from Edmonton, Alberta, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, as it traveled at night along a desolate stretch of the TransCanada Highway about 12 miles (19 kilometres) from Portage La Prairie last Wednesday.
Some were napping and others watching the movie "The Legend of Zorro" on bus television screens when Li attacked McLean, allegedly stabbing him dozens of times.
As horrified passengers fled the bus, Li severed McLean's head, displaying it to some of the passengers outside the bus, witnesses said. He then began hacking at the body.
A police officer at the scene reported seeing the attacker hacking off pieces of the victim's body and eating them, according to a police tape leaked on the Internet.
Prosecutors said Li, 40, had a plastic bag containing his victim's ear, nose and part of a mouth in his pocket when officers arrested him and was swinging it, taunting officers.
The only response officers received from him was allegedly: 'I have to stay on the bus forever'.
Police are looking into information that Li may have spent as many as four days in a psychiatric facility prior to the attack, Dalmyn said.Since his arrest, Li has declined to speak to prosecutors and his court-appointed attorney.
When asked by a judge if he wanted a lawyer, Li shook his head and then quietly said" "Please kill me."
Li is due back in court September 8.
A church pastor, Tom Castor, who helped hire Li soon after he immigrated in 2004 with his wife, Anna, said the man never showed any sign of anger or emotional problems when he worked there as a custodian.
Church officials said they vetted Li by contacting references listed on his application and running a criminal record check.
More than 105,000 people have joined an online memorial group for the victim Mr McLean.
In the wake of the attack, Greyhound scrapped a billboard ad campaign that extolled the relaxing upside of bus travel.
The ad's punch line was "There's a reason you've never heard of 'bus rage."'

Death on a Greyhound Bus

Last week, something truly horrible happened on a bus journey in Canada. Many headlines on the internet news caught my attention. Most went something like this..." Man on Greyhound bus beheaded ! " For others the keyword might be "beheaded". However it was the mentioned of " Greyhound bus" that jolted me enough to now blog about it.
The accompanying report below is from foreign news sources. The most unfortunate victim was a young man named Tim McClean [ see photo]. For details read the report below.
My wife D2, and daughter D4 had travelled on similar Greyhound buses in 1992 December in the US. We made many cross -states trips from New York to Boston to Buffalo, Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, to Los Angeles, San Francisco etc..
Generally speaking, we found Greyhound service reliable in terms of getting from point A to B or wherever. But even back then, having travelled for a month before D2 and D4 joined me later that year, I had lots of genuine apprehension about safety of passengers, travellers. I'm not faulting Greyhound at all. I was even accosted several times, twice in Brooklyn , NYork and once near Disneyland, LA. I survived without a scratch nor lost even a cent...that's really something in the crime infested times of those years.
While in the Greyhound buses, and at the depots or interchange, invariably we saw many unsavoury characters...blacks, whites,latinos and even Asians. They did not look like your typical traveller. Many boarded without any luggage. To me, from long experience, that is usually not a good sign.
I was always on 100 % ALERT and constantly on my guard while travelling.
There were many a time when I was accosted in my travels in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Europe, China, Turkey etc.... But I was already 2-3 steps ahead of the accosters and could therefore take evasive action before any thing bad happened.
For one of these REAL LIFE incidents go to my early post entitled, " Travellers Tales...Travelling on Greyhound Buses " dated Monday 24th September 2007, on this blogsite.
Beheaded Canada bus man 'named'

Vince Weiguang Li has been charged with second-degree murder
A young man beheaded in a savage knife attack on a Canadian cross-country bus has been identified by friends as a "bubbly" 22-year-old man.
Canadian police have not yet formally confirmed the victim's identity, but friends paid tribute on Facebook and in e-mails to Canadian media.
One told broadcaster CBC that Tim McLean, the presumed victim, was loved by many and called him a "ladies man".
Police have charged Vince Weiguang Li, 40, with second-degree murder.
Mr Li, of Edmonton, Alberta, appeared in court in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, on Friday.
He said nothing when the judge asked whether he was going to use a lawyer, merely nodding when asked whether he was exercising the right not to speak.
The judge said Mr Li should appear in court on Tuesday after he had had an opportunity to speak to a lawyer.
Newly-established Facebook groups and Tim McLean's Myspace page have filled with messages of support for the victims' family after news of the horrific killing.
Eyewitnesses on board the bus, which was travelling through a desolate stretch of Canada's vast prairies, said the victim was stabbed 50 or 60 times by the man sitting next to him.

Friends say the victim is Tim McLean, but police have not confirmed this
The attacker then severed his head with a large knife, reportedly brandishing the head to terrified passengers.
In an e-mail to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a friend of Tim McLean, Jossie Kehler, told of her sadness.
"He has a lot of friends and they are all very upset he's gone, and they would like to say they miss him and he will always be in their hearts," she wrote.
On Facebook, news of the killing led to hundreds of friends and well-wishers joining a tribute group.
The site description read: "RIP Tim McLean, you are loved and you will be missed dearly! That man will pay for what he did! We love you!"
'No rage'
The attacker was arrested after a lengthy standoff with police late on Wednesday night.

Police say they do not know what may have provoked the attackOne passenger, Garnet Caton, said many of the 37 passengers saw the attacker "cutting the guy's head off and pretty much gutting him up".
The attacker ran at them, Mr Caton said, and they ran out of the bus, holding the door shut to prevent him getting out.
The attack appeared to be unprovoked and it is thought the killer did not know his victim.
The passengers, many of whom were badly shaken by what they witnessed, were taken to a hotel in Brandon, Manitoba, and were given crisis counselling.

QUTANG Gorge and 10 Yuan note

In the late evening, we eventually came upon the shortest but the most majestic of the 3 Gorges....QUTANG Gorge. It runs for about 5 miles from Fengje county to Baidi City. Here in the photo you can see Qutang Pass which is sometimes referred to as "The Kui Gate". Why?
With two high peaks Mt Baiyun [3000 ft +] and Mt Chijia [ 4000 ft+] on both sides of the deep gorge and canyon coupled with very fast moving waters...the whole scene resembles a gate made by heaven and placed here on earth.

It was our trusty guide Shirley who pointed this out to us. She told us to take out a 10 yuan note [ current ] and look closely at the back of the note. We did so. Now...she added excitedly look at the actual scene behind you. We did.
Viola! Adacadbra ! Like Magic ...the backdrop of where we were...the Qutang Pass or Kui Gate appears on the back of the note!

This is the current 10 yuan note. The scene shown on the note is right where we were then passing through.
By the way, 10 yuan is roughly equal to $ 2 Singapore.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Writings on the Cliff face

Proceeding downriver towards Qutang Gorge, we passed by some vertical cliffs that had Chinese characters carved into the rock face.
The reddish paintwork appeared to have faded away with time but one can still make out some characters.
Could this be Zhuge Liang's handiwork...I wondered?

Monday, August 4, 2008

A look inside our Cabin

This was the room on board our luxury cruise ship. As you can see, it came with a good window view...nothing blocking the view from inside. There were 2 single beds with overhead reading lights on the wall.

In the small confines of the room, there was still space and allowance for an attached bath and shower room, clothes cupboard, small writing desk, A Tv set and utility drawers.

Now....the question is why on earth was I bare-bodied ?

Is this a vicarious attempt to show my less than perfect physique ?[ although my present physical fitness and especially my cardio-vascular fitness is another matter. For a person of my age...believe me when I say I can give people half my age a run for their money when it comes to beating them, whether in a sport or game...swimming, running,Badminton...etc . ]
The simple truth of the was a very hot afternoon even inside our room. The Air/con could not be made any stronger. So, we made our own kopi-o with the kopi bags that D2 had thankfully brought along and had a good coffee break from the heat outside.

The Red Bridge at Wu Gorge

The top photo:
I captured this scene as we were approaching under the Red Bridge. The bow of our ship was facing the bridge. We were all at the rear or stern end of the open deck.

The second photo:
Our ship had just passed underneath the Red Bridge. We were still in Wu Gorge at that point and heading for the last Gorge...Qutang Gorge. This snapshot was taken from the stern of our ship.

As we moved ahead, away from the Bridge, I captured this scene of the water trail left in the wake of our ship's movements.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Goddess Peak

The top picture: After passing all 12 peaks on the Wu Gorge ...we saw this "reverse Red Bridge" linking the two opposite sides of the cliff. It is a majestic landmark. Our ship was heading towards it.
The centre photo shows Shenna or Goddess Peak. Look closely and you can see the lone figure of the fairy standing a little to the right. It is actually about 10 metres tall.
The bottom photo shows Goddess Peak but in the faint background...more to the left.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wu Gorge

These are some scenes as we cruised along the Wu Gorge.
We have found some new admirers among the Australian group.
They were very grateful that we took the time expand their non-existent understanding of this region and especially introduced them to Chinese History of the 3 Kingdom period.
The mistiness I talked about in my previous post can be clearly seen here
surrounding the peaks.

A grateful admirer!

The other 2 Chinese ladies are from a county near Wuhan. This was also their 1st ever trip to the 3 Gorges region.

D2 and Shirley were most impressed by my detailed recollections of the many aspects of the 3 Kingdom I regaled our assembled group on the sun deck.
Shirley commented that she only knew bits and pieces of the main story and that history was not her strong subject while in school. She added that I was able to comment on many dynasties, kings, incidents, and many details...yet without a book in my hand [ she had 2 booklets with her for reference].
D2 told them I had actually taught history to Secondary students long ago...and that I still retained the passion and love for history.
Ok. True? Absolutely...every word she said!
Behind us is the Denglong Peak [ Peak of Climbing Dragon ].